Editor’s note: TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP), text TLAP to 555888, or find more information at tlaphelps.org.
As I write this on July 28, 2020, at 7:30 a.m., I am at the courthouse square in a small central Texas town waiting for my name to be called outside the barbershop. I cannot go inside because of the coronavirus. I look back at my past that consisted of multiple DWIs, Texas Board of Law Examiner hearings, and rehabs in every time zone of the United States and have slowly learned to appreciate the path of recovery. As a recovering alcoholic, I am blessed to be a Texas lawyer and I am grateful for the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program. For any lawyer that is struggling with addiction and mental health, there is help—I and multiple other lawyers have been there. There is help. Addiction is the toughest disease to overcome because it is the only disease that ultimately has to be self-diagnosed (I was taught that in rehab multiple times.) I tried multiple times not to be an alcoholic—I was embarrassed and ashamed of being an alcoholic. I lost many friends, relationships, and opportunities because I refused to acknowledge that I was an alcoholic. Once I acknowledged I was an alcoholic, my life turned around. One Texas lawyer told me it will be a slow turn around because I was a slow learner—but I was still a learner. I am proud to be a recovering alcoholic, and my past has made me a better criminal defense attorney. Because of TLAP, I learned that other attorneys have experienced what I was going through. There is no shame in being a recovering alcoholic. Please reach out to TLAP. As for me, personally, any morning, I would rather wait on the barber to get a haircut than wait on a judge to get magistrated at the county jail after my multiple arrests.